Speak the Truth In Love
“The blizzard of the world is the fear and the frenzy and deceit and indifference to the suffering of others that separates us from our own souls and our moral bearings.” Parker Palmer
Walk in Love
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma…
Walk in Light
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Walk in Wisdom
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Eph 5:1, 8-16 NKJV
I struggled mightily with writing this book. At the heart of my struggle was reconciling my sense to share a prophetic “wake-up” call for the body of Christ and all the teaching that I have received that says all prophecy should be done in love and should only be done in a way that uplifts, edifies and encourages. I have been in great spirit-filled churches that have strictly interpreted “uplifts, edifies and encourages” to mean that a prophetic word can’t contain a rebuke, or a correction, or a warning. The implication is that a message from God in “love” would never include any of these elements.
I believe that I needed to learn it this way at first because twenty years ago, I was the angry “prophet.” God had given me “a Word,” and I was “right.” I was scripturally right, I was morally right, and my timing was right. Yes, I knew the Bible, but I didn’t know God’s love. I didn’t know how to share what I heard/saw in love. Specifically, I had no revelation of 1 Cor 13:1-2: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (Berean Study Bible)
In my church, instead of being an encouragement to my pastor, I was an irritant. I was a noisy “gong” a “clanging cymbal.” I remember one time seeing my pastor’s face cringe when he saw an envelope in my hand as I approached him. It meant I had one of those “words from God” in a long letter that showed how right I was. Typically the letter was filled with Scripture but was caustic, disrespectful, and devoid of love. I thank God that my pastor loved me through that ugly phase of my life. I’ll never forget that my pastor called me at home during the holidays after receiving one of these letters. He was irritated and rightfully so, but he took the time to explain why things were being done a certain way in the church.
A couple of years ago, I looked back on some of those letters that I wrote to my pastor. I couldn’t believe my tone. I couldn’t believe I had talked to a world-renowned pastor with such casual abruptness and directness. I thank God for the patience and the wisdom in Dr. Fredrick K. C. Price, now Apostle Price.
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;…11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Thanks to my experience under Dr. Price and in several other ministries, I have a better understanding of Ephesians 4:1-4, 11-16. If someone claims to be delivering a prophetic word, it must be done in humility, gentleness, and patience, which are all characteristics of love. I understand now that we must “speak the truth in love,” so that whole body will be built up, grown up in love. The goal of all these efforts is keeping “the unity of the Spirit” and “unity in the faith.” Finding a place of unity, within the body of Christ, specifically as it pertains to the spirit of racism and its devastating impacts on America in it’s past and in it’s present, is what this book is all about.
Amos 3:3 (KJV) says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” It is the purpose of this book to promote agreement and unity in the body of Christ around the concept of racism. I believe that the Holy Spirit purposefully gave me the ugliest and vilest graphic depiction of it to place on my cover. I will work to portray the spirit of racism this way throughout this book.
I believe that the spirit of racism is and has always has been the greatest threat to America’s survival as a nation and unity in the body of Christ. It falls into the Eph 5:8 category of “darkness” that we “were once in.” It is now our collective duty as unified members of the body of Christ to shine the light of the Lord on it wherever it exists. It is our Biblical responsibility as “ambassadors” of the Lord Jesus Christ to not only not have “fellowship” with this “unfruitful work of darkness” but to expose it wherever we see it. Eph 5:13 says, “But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light.”
I believe that some in the body of Christ have fallen prey to the influence of this spirit. They say and do things in secret that do not reflect the “fruit of the Spirit in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” My greater concern, however, is that there are many leaders in the body of Christ who have not arisen to shine the light of the Lord on this spirit and its operation. Its as if these leaders within the body of Christ are asleep. Eph 5:14 says, “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
My prayer is that something in this book will awaken Christians, even leaders who are spiritually asleep, spiritually blinded to the operation of the spirit of racism, not just in America but in the body of Christ. I pray that something in this book will stir them from a spiritual slumber if you will. As they awaken, I believe Jesus can give them “light,” revelation as to the operations, intentions, and tangible manifestations of the spirit of racism.
As I read what I wrote, it almost seems like I am contradicting myself in terms of “speaking the truth in love.” How can I say, “in love” that there are members, leaders in the body of Christ who are blinded to the operation and manifestation of the spirit of racism? Isn’t this a rebuke or a correction? Biblical love doesn’t rebuke or correct; it only edifies and comforts, right?
Let’s take a look at Scripture starting with 1 Cor 14:3, which deals with prophecy: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” A look at the definition of the word edification in the Greek, from the Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, says “building up.” But it also says, “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness.”
Now let’s compare that to what 2 Tim 3:16-17 says about how we are to use the Scriptures: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. In the Strong’s Concordance, one definition for reproof is “conviction.” Some of the definitions Strong’s lists for the word correction are: “restoration to an upright or right state, correction, improvement of life or character.”
Heb 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” The Strong’s definitions of the word provoke in the Greek are “an inciting, incitement, irritation.” Strongs equates the word irritation with the words “contention” in Acts 15:39 and “passion” in Deut 29:28.
Acts 15:39 says, “And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.” Deut 29:28 says, “And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.”
If I have interpreted these Scriptures correctly, it means that in provoking someone to love and unity that I can be passionate, I can incite, I can even correct or rebuke. Some reading this may say a rebuke is not love. Prov 27:5-6 says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Definitions in the Hebrew for the word rebuke used in Prov 27:5 include “chastisement, correction, refutation, reproof, chiding, argument.”
Prov 9:8 says, “rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” Eccl 7:5 says, “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.” Prov 24:24-25 says, “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. 1 Tim 5:20 says, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 2 Tim 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. Tit 2:15 says, These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Years ago, I was so confused about these Scriptures. I’d been taught that prophecy only edifies and doesn’t correct or rebuke. But I’d seen God, Jesus and the prophets rebuke and warn in Scripture. I’d seen pastors rebuke the congregation. At a key point of foolishness in my life, I’d heard with my own ears, the rebuke of my pastor, mentor, father figure, Rick Wooten. He said, Ivan, “you’re pissing your life away.” It was a life-changing, course-altering moment in my life.
I know that the Bible never contradicts itself. People that say that it does expose their arrogance and exalt their understanding above the omnipotence and omniscience of God. Whenever the Bible seems to contradict itself, we must dig deeper. We must get help from study tools and, most importantly, from the Helper, the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth.
I believe that the Bible clearly shows that God, Jesus, Christian leaders, and members in the body of Christ can be both loving and yet give correction and rebuke. I am a father of five. I could not leave out correction and, even at times, rebuke in administering love to my children. In love, I can correct or rebuke my child for walking into the street without looking or my teenager for being disrespectful to a teacher or their mom. I think what’s needed is a greater understanding of “speak the truth in love.”
I believe the Holy Spirit shared it with me as follows: any kind of correction, rebuke or reproof must be done with a redemptive end, with an eye towards the salvation of that person or with the same kind of love Jesus would show that person in their sin.
Most of us just want to rebuke a person in anger and tell them off without the purpose of restoration. The goal of Jesus was restoration. Yes, Jesus was concerned about sin, “for this purpose was the Son of God manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). But Jesus also came to seek and save that which was lost. He came to save the sinner.
In my flesh, I want to hate racists. I want to beat them with the Word, lashing them unmercifully. In my flesh, I have fantasized about going back in time with automatic weapons, high-powered rifles, and explosives to the scene of lynchings, murders, and massacres of black people and killing every perpetrator. Apart from the Spirit of God, I cannot write this book. Apart from the Spirit of God, I cannot portray the Scriptures in love, to people who operate in this sin.
Thank God for the Holy Spirit! If I harbor those types of hate-filled thoughts, He reminds me of my sins and the grace and mercy that He has extended to me for my sins. He reminds me that sin is sin, and the love He has that was big enough to cover my sin and restore me to health is the same love that He extends to those caught up in or blinded by the sin of racism. I have to love them as He loves me. I have to love them with His love. I believe the lack of this revelation is the reason that I initially could not write this book.
I was too overwhelmed by the recent tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others to extend the grace of God to the perpetrators. I had the noisy gong and clanging cymbal in one hand and a pen in the other.
I pray the mercy and grace of God over all the perpetrators and all those who I have blamed for not being more vocal in their stance against racism and it’s manifestation in murders and loss of life.
In humility, I pledge before God to speak the truth in love about the horrific and evil spirit of racism with the hope that God will grant repentance to those who have succumbed to it or winked at it. As God has granted me repentance, mercy, and grace for the willful sins I have committed and the sins that I have winked at, I pray he does the same for them. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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